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Dana M. Lis and Keith Baar

Nutritional strategies to improve connective tissue collagen synthesis have garnered significant interest, although the scientific validity of these interventions lags behind their hype. This study was designed to determine the effects of three forms of collagen on N-terminal peptide of procollagen and serum amino acid levels. A total of 10 recreationally active males completed a randomized double-blinded crossover design study consuming either placebo or 15 g of vitamin C–enriched gelatin or hydrolyzed collagen (HC), or gummy containing equal parts of gelatin and HC. Supplements were consumed 1 hr before 6 min of jump rope. Blood samples were collected immediately prior to supplement consumption and 4 hr after jump rope. A subset of blood samples (n = 4) was collected for amino acid analysis 1 hr after ingestion. Consumption of an equivalent dose of each supplement increased amino acids in the circulation similarly across all interventions. N-terminal peptide of procollagen levels tended to increase ∼20% from baseline in the gelatin and HC interventions but not the placebo or gummy. These results suggest that vitamin C–enriched gelatin and HC supplementation may improve collagen synthesis when taken 1 hr prior to exercise. However, large variability was observed, which precluded significance for any treatment.

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Adam D. Osmond, Dean J. Directo, Marcus L. Elam, Gabriela Juache, Vince C. Kreipke, Desiree E. Saralegui, Robert Wildman, Michael Wong and Edward Jo

Context: Of the 3 branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), leucine has arguably received the most attribution for the role of BCAA supplementation in alleviating symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage and facilitation of acute performance recovery. Purpose: To examine whether enrichment of a standard BCAA supplement with additional leucine or a standalone leucine (LEU) supplement differentially affects exercise-induced muscle damage and performance recovery compared with a standard BCAA supplement. Methods: A total of 22 recreationally active male and female subjects were recruited and assigned to consume a BCAA, leucine-enriched BCAA (LBCAA), or LEU supplement for 11 d. On the eighth day, subjects performed eccentric-based resistance exercise (ECRE). Lower-body mean average and peak power, plasma creatine kinase, soreness, and pain threshold were measured before and 24, 48, and 72 h after ECRE. Results: LEU showed decreased mean average power (P = .02) and mean peak power (P = .01) from baseline to 48 h post-ECRE, whereas LBCAA and BCAA only trended toward a reduction at 24 hours post-ECRE. At 48 h post-ECRE, BCAA showed greater recovery of mean peak power than LEU (P = .04). At 24 h post-ECRE, LEU demonstrated a greater increase in plasma creatine kinase from baseline than BCAA (P = .04). Area under the curve for creatine kinase was greater in LEU than BCAA (P = .02), whereas BCAA and LBCAA did not differ. Only LEU demonstrated increased soreness during rest and under muscular tension at 24 and 48 h post-ECRE (P < .05). Conclusions: LBCAA failed to afford any advantages over a standard BCAA supplement for postexercise muscle recovery, whereas a LEU supplement was comparatively ineffective.

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David Rodríguez-Osorio, Oliver Gonzalo-Skok and Fernando Pareja-Blanco

Purpose: To compare the effects of resisted change-of-direction (COD) movements, using several relative loads, on soccer players’ physical performance. Methods: Fifty-four male soccer players were randomly assigned to 1 of the following 3 groups, which differed only in the magnitude of the external load used during the COD training: COD training without external load (COD-0; n = 16), COD training with a 12.5% body-mass external load (COD-12.5; n = 19), and COD training with a 50% body-mass external load (COD-50; n = 19). Participants performed the specific COD training twice per week for 6 wk. Before and after the training period, a battery of tests was completed: countermovement jump, 30-m running sprint (time in 10 m [T10], 20 m [T20], and 30 m [T30]), L-run test, and V-cut test. Results: Within-group comparisons showed substantial improvements in countermovement jump and T10 (likely) in COD-0, whereas countermovement jump, T10, and T20 were substantially enhanced (possibly to likely) in COD-50. COD-12.5 induced substantial improvements in all analyzed variables (likely to most likely). Between-groups comparisons showed better effects on all analyzed variables for COD-12.5 than for COD-0 (possibly to very likely), whereas COD-50 only showed possibly better effects than COD-0 on T10. In addition, COD-12.5 induced a better effect on L-run and V-cut tests than COD-50 (possibly to likely). Conclusions: These results indicate that COD training, especially moderate load (12.5% body mass) resisted COD training, may have a positive effect on COD skills, running sprint performance, and jumping ability in young soccer players.

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Carolina F. Wilke, Felipe Augusto P. Fernandes, Flávio Vinícius C. Martins, Anísio M. Lacerda, Fabio Y. Nakamura, Samuel P. Wanner and Rob Duffield

Purpose : To investigate the existence of faster vs slower recovery profiles in futsal and factors distinguishing them. Methods: 22 male futsal players were evaluated in countermovement jump, 10-m sprint, creatine kinase, total quality of recovery (TQR), and Brunel Mood Scale (fatigue and vigor) before and immediately and 3, 24, and 48 h posttraining. Hierarchical cluster analysis allocated players to different recovery profiles using the area under the curve (AUC) of the percentage differences from baseline. One-way ANOVA compared the time course of each variable and players’ characteristics between clusters. Results : Three clusters were identified and labeled faster recovery (FR), slower physiological recovery (SLphy), and slower perceptual recovery (SLperc). FR presented better AUC in 10-m sprint than SLphy (P = .001) and SLperc (P = .008), as well as better TQR SLphy (P = .018) and SLperc (P = .026). SLperc showed better AUC in countermovement jump than SLphy (P = .014) but presented worse fatigue AUC than SLphy (P = .014) and FR (P = .008). AUC of creatine kinase was worse in SLphy than in FR (P = .001) and SLperc (P < .001). The SLphy players were younger than SLperc players (P = .027), whereas FR were slower 10-m sprinters than SLphy players (P = .003) and SLperc (P = .013) and tended to have higher maximal oxygen consumption than SLphy (effect size =1.13). Conclusion : Different posttraining recovery profiles exist in futsal players, possibly influenced by their physical abilities and age/experience.

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Steven H. Doeven, Michel S. Brink, Barbara C.H. Huijgen, Johan de Jong and Koen A.P.M. Lemmink

During rugby sevens tournaments, it is crucial to balance match load and recovery to strive for optimal performance. Purpose: To determine changes in well-being, recovery, and neuromuscular performance during and after an elite women’s rugby sevens tournament and assess the influence of match-load indicators. Methods: Twelve elite women rugby sevens players (age = 25.3 [4.1]y, height = 169.0 [4.0] cm, weight = 63.9 [4.9] kg, and body fat = 18.6% [2.7%]) performed 5 matches during a 2-d tournament of the Women’s Rugby Sevens World Series. Perceived well-being (fatigue, sleep quality, general muscle soreness, stress levels, and mood), total quality of recovery, and countermovement-jump flight time were measured on match days 1 and 2, 1 d posttournament, and 2 d posttournament. Total distance; low-, moderate-, and high-intensity running; and physical contacts during matches were derived from global positioning system–based time–motion analysis and video-based notational analysis, respectively. Internal match load was calculated by session rating of perceived exertion and playing time (rating of perceived exertion × duration). Results: Well-being (P < .001), fatigue (P < .001), general muscle soreness (P < .001), stress levels (P < .001), mood (P = .005), and total quality of recovery (P < .001) were significantly impaired after match day 1 and did not return to baseline values until 2 d posttournament. More high-intensity running was related to more fatigue (r = −.60, P = .049) and a larger number of physical contacts with more general muscle soreness (r = −.69, P = .013). Conclusion: Perceived well-being and total quality of recovery were already impaired after match day 1, although performance was maintained. High-intensity running and physical contacts were predominantly related to fatigue and general muscle soreness, respectively.

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Mathew Hillier, Louise Sutton, Lewis James, Dara Mojtahedi, Nicola Keay and Karen Hind

The practice of rapid weight loss (RWL) in mixed martial arts (MMA) is an increasing concern but data remain scarce. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence, magnitude, methods, and influencers of RWL in professional and amateur MMA athletes. MMA athletes (N = 314; 287 men and 27 women) across nine weight categories (strawweight to heavyweight), completed a validated questionnaire adapted for this sport. Sex-specific data were analyzed, and subgroup comparisons were made between athletes competing at professional and amateur levels. Most athletes purposefully reduced body weight for competition (men: 97.2%; women: 100%). The magnitude of RWL in 1 week prior to weigh-in was significantly greater for professional athletes compared with those competing at amateur level (men: 5.9% vs. 4.2%; women: 5.0% vs. 2.1% of body weight; p < .05). In the 24 hr preceding weigh-in, the magnitude of RWL was greater at professional than amateur level in men (3.7% vs. 2.5% of body weight; p < .05). Most athletes “always” or “sometimes” used water loading (72.9%), restricting fluid intake (71.3%), and sweat suits (55.4%) for RWL. Coaches were cited as the primary source of influence on RWL practices (men: 29.3%; women: 48.1%). There is a high reported prevalence of RWL in MMA, at professional and amateur levels. Our findings, constituting the largest inquiry to date, call for urgent action from MMA organizations to safeguard the health and well-being of athletes competing in this sport.

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Manuel D. Quinones and Peter W.R. Lemon

Hydrothermally modified non-genetically modified organisms corn starch (HMS) ingestion may enhance endurance exercise performance via sparing carbohydrate oxidation. To determine whether similar effects occur with high-intensity intermittent exercise, we investigated the effects of HMS ingestion prior to and at halftime on soccer skill performance and repeated sprint ability during the later stages of a simulated soccer match. In total, 11 male university varsity soccer players (height = 177.7 ± 6.8 cm, body mass = 77.3 ± 7.9 kg, age = 22 ± 3 years, body fat = 12.8 ± 4.9%, and maximal oxygen uptake = 57.1 ± 3.9 ml·kg BM−1·min−1) completed the match with HMS (8% carbohydrate containing a total of 0.7 g·kg BM−1·hr−1; 2.8 kcal·kg BM−1·hr−1) or isoenergetic dextrose. Blood glucose was lower (p < .001) with HMS at 15 min (5.3 vs. 7.7 mmol/L) and 30 min (5.6 vs. 8.3 mmol/L) following ingestion, there were no treatment differences in blood lactate, and the respiratory exchange ratio was lower with HMS at 15 min (0.84 vs. 0.86, p = .003); 30 min (0.83 vs. 0.85, p = .004); and 45 min (0.83 vs. 0.85, p = .007) of the first half. Repeated sprint performance was similar for both treatments (p > .05). Soccer dribbling time was slower with isoenergetic dextrose versus baseline (15.63 vs. 14.43 s, p < .05) but not so with HMS (15.04 vs. 14.43 s, p > .05). Furthermore, during the passing test, penalty time was reduced (4.27 vs. 7.73 s, p = .004) with HMS. During situations where glycogen availability is expected to become limiting, HMS ingestion prematch and at halftime could attenuate the decline in skill performance often seen late in contests.

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Thomas Reeve, Ralph Gordon, Paul B. Laursen, Jason K.W. Lee and Christopher J. Tyler

Purpose: To investigate the effects of short-term, high-intensity interval-training (HIIT) heat acclimation (HA). Methods: Male cyclists/triathletes were assigned into either an HA (n = 13) or a comparison (COMP, n = 10) group. HA completed 3 cycling heat stress tests (HSTs) to exhaustion (60% W max; HST1, pre-HA; HST2, post-HA; HST3, 7 d post-HA). HA consisted of 30-min bouts of HIIT cycling (6 min at 50% W max, then 12 × 1-min 100%-W max bouts with 1-min rests between bouts) on 5 consecutive days. COMP completed HST1 and HST2 only. HST and HA trials were conducted in 35°C/50% relative humidity. Cycling capacity and physiological and perceptual data were recorded. Results: Cycling capacity was impaired after HIIT HA (77.2 [34.2] min vs 56.2 [24.4] min, P = .03) and did not return to baseline after 7 d of no HA (59.2 [37.4] min). Capacity in HST1 and HST2 was similar in COMP (43.5 [8.3] min vs 46.8 [15.7] min, P = .54). HIIT HA lowered resting rectal (37.0°C [0.3°C] vs 36.8°C [0.2°C], P = .05) and body temperature (36.0°C [0.3°C] vs 35.8°C [0.3°C], P = .03) in HST2 compared with HST1 and lowered mean skin temperature (35.4°C [0.5°C] vs 35.1°C [0.3°C], P = .02) and perceived strain on day 5 compared with day 1 of HA. All other data were unaffected. Conclusions: Cycling capacity was impaired in the heat after 5 d of consecutive HIIT HA despite some heat adaptation. Based on data, this approach is not recommended for athletes preparing to compete in the heat; however, it is possible that it may be beneficial if a state of overreaching is avoided.

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Gareth N. Sandford, Simon A. Rogers, Avish P. Sharma, Andrew E. Kilding, Angus Ross and Paul B. Laursen

Purpose: Anaerobic speed reserve (ASR), defined as the speed range from velocity associated with maximal oxygen uptake (vVO2max) to maximal sprint speed, has recently been shown to be an important tool for middle-distance coaches to meet event surge demands and inform on the complexity of athlete profiles. To enable field application of ASR, the relationship between gun-to-tape 1500-m average speed (1500v) and the vVO2max for the determination of lower landmark of the ASR was assessed in elite middle-distance runners. Methods: A total of 8 national and 4 international middle-distance runners completed a laboratory-measured vVO2max assessment within 6 wk of a nonchampionship 1500-m gun-to-tape race. ASR was calculated using both laboratory-derived vVO2max (ASR-LAB) and 1500v (ASR-1500v), with maximal sprint speed measured using radar technology. Results: 1500v was on average +2.06 ± 1.03 km/h faster than vVO2max (moderate effect, very likely). ASR-LAB and ASR-1500v mean differences were −2.1 ± 1.5 km/h (large effect, very likely). 1500v showed an extremely large relationship with vVO2max, r = .90 ± .12 (most likely). Using this relationship, a linear-regression vVO2max-estimation equation was derived as vVO2max (km/h) = (1500v [km/h] − 14.921)/0.4266. Conclusions: A moderate difference was evident between 1500v and vVO2max in elite middle-distance runners. The present regression equation should be applied for an accurate field prediction of vVO2max from 1500-m gun-to-tape races. These findings have strong practical implications for coaches lacking access to a sports physiology laboratory who seek to monitor and profile middle-distance runners.

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Rich D. Johnston

Purpose: To explore the relationship between technical errors during rugby league games, match success, and physical characteristics. Methods: A total of 27 semiprofessional rugby league players participated in this study (24.8 [2.5] y, 183.5 [5.3] cm, 97.1 [11.6] kg). Aerobic fitness, strength, and power were assessed prior to the start of the competitive season before technical performance was tracked during 22 competitive fixtures. Attacking errors were determined as any error that occurred in possession of the ball that resulted in a handover to the opposition. Defensive errors included line breaks, penalties, and missed or ineffective tackles. Match outcome, the zone on the field in which each error occurred, and the number of errors in an error chain (≤60 s between errors) were assessed. Results: During a loss, there were more defensive errors in the 0- to 40-m zone than when a match was won (effect size = 0.99 [0.04–1.94]). Error chains were a predictor of conceding a try (P = .0001, r 2 = .22), with the odds ratio increasing to 2.33 when there were 7 errors per chain. High lower-body strength was associated with fewer defensive errors for backs (Bayes factor = 3.67) and forwards (Bayes factor = 19.31); relative bench press was also important for backs (Bayes factor = 3.21). Conclusions: Fewer defensive errors occur in the 0- to 40-m zone during winning matches; lower-body strength is strongly associated with fewer defensive errors in rugby league players.